British chips really have been left an inch shorter thanks to 2018’s extreme and unpredictable weather, according to a report on the UK’s fruit and vegetable industry. ‘Losing an inch off our chips is no laughing matter’ Clara Goldsmith, Climate Coalition A prolonged heatwave over the summer was among the hottest on record. Some parts of the country had no rain for as long as 58 days
The dry conditions led to the fourth lowest potato harvest in 60 years, while crops such as carrots and onions also struggled. Yields have been down across Britain and northern Europe.
Threat to growers The report, by a Climate Coalition of environmental and social groups, said last year’s heatwave and drought saw yields of potatoes fall 20 per cent compared to the previous season.
Lee Abbey, from the National Farmers Union, which recently announced it wanted UK farming to become net zero in its greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, said: “A lot of growers will have come out of this year with sore heads and not much income. “Farmers and growers are used to dealing with fluctuations in the weather but if we have two or three extreme years in a row it has the potential to put growers out of business.” Producers knew harvests would be down in autumn last year. Cedric Porter, editor of World Potato Markets, said to i in September: “The drought across Europe has reduced the size of potatoes, leading to much smaller chips or fries. “The hot and dry weather has also pushed up the price of potatoes, with some values increasing by 10 times over the last year.”
‘No laughing matter’ Now growers across the food and drink industry are worried climate change will have a worsening impact on agriculture in the UK. Future yields of fruit and vegetables grown in the UK, from the humble spud to grapes producing British wine, could be hit by extremes such as longer-lasting and more intense heatwaves, as well as increasingly intense downpours, storms, and flooding. Read more: Summer heatwave means much smaller Brussels sprouts at Christmas A number of English vineyards have said up to three-quarters of their grapes were damaged by the late spring frosts of 2017. The summer’s extreme weather – which the Met Office said was made 30 times more likely by climate change – also hit carrots, with growers reporting yields down 25-30 per cent, and onions, which producers said were down 40 per cent. But chips are perhaps the most notable, given their popularity. Yields are down, but potatoes have also found to be misshapen and smaller, which has left the average British chip about an inch smaller, the report said. The Climate Coalition, which is made up of 130 organisations, including the WWF, the Women’s Institute, RSPB and the National Trust, said such adverse weather is a warning to farmers and shoppers alike. Climate Coalition director Clara Goldsmith said: “Losing an inch off our chips is no laughing matter. Even worse if we lose supplies of our much-loved British spuds altogether inews.co.uk